When, last spring, the legislature, by an overwhelming majority, voted to raise the gas tax 3 cents a gallon and index the price of gas for inflation, we made a modest – some would argue too modest – down-payment on rebuilding the state’s roads, bridges and public transit system.  Numerous analysts agree that years, if not decades, of neglect and under-investment in repairs and maintenance have left us with an estimated $20 billion hole in our transportation system.  This problem was years in the making and will take years to fix, which is precisely why a failure to take a multi-year approach like indexing would have been irresponsible.  Those who argue we should be taking an annual vote simply ignore our responsibility to govern for the long-term.  They also ignore that, by designating an income stream to fund future maintenance and repair, we can both plan better and secure better bond rates to fund the much-needed work.  If you’re going to travel in Massachusetts, and want to do it safely, efficiently, and effectively, you’ve got to pay to play.  In our democracy, there is a Constitutionally-protected right to challenge an act of the legislature, and, ultimately, the voters will decide.  I’ll be telling them that we dare not do less than what we approved in the spring, and a vote to repeal indexing is a vote for more potholes, more broken-down trains and buses, more closed bridges, more travel delays, and more expensive repair and maintenance bills; not a good idea.

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